The cross country season runs from October to March. It’s fantastic winter training and the races are great team events. They also offer real value for money compared to other ‘muddy’ events as entry is either free or a minimal cost per runner.

Every runner who takes part counts as the scoring system takes into account all runners in the field.

The courses vary – sometimes you run 2 or 3 laps in parks on grass, others are through woods and some even throw up the odd ditch or bit of water! They make a nice change to running on the road.

The course are all marked and marshalled. There are no mile markers.

The club competes in two leagues – the Essex League on Saturdays and the 53-12 League on Sundays. All abilities take part in both leagues so please do not be put off and think you have to be at a certain standard to run. Come and give it a try!

The Essex League is on a Saturday with the women’s race at 12 noon and the men at 12:45. This is free for club members to enter as the club has paid our fees for this League. Women run a shorter course than the men, usually around 3.5 – 4 miles. Men run between 5 – 5.5 miles. We are in Division 2 for this League. The first 6 men and 4 women make up our team score. There is also a Vets League within the Essex League with the first 4 vet men and first 3 vet women for the club scoring. The Essex League has a Facebook page ‘Essex Cross Country League’ where you can find information about upcoming races, results etc and the dates are on our calendar which can be found HERE.

The 53-12 League is on a Sunday with both men and women running together at 10:30. For this League the cost is £3 per runner which you give to the person collecting the money for the club (usually Andy Carter). There are 6 fixtures in this league and the course is usually around 5 miles for both men and women. We are in Pool B for this League. The first 4 men and 2 women make up our team score. Halstead Road Runners host a fixture in this League at Gosfield School so all club members are encouraged to support this race either by marking out the course beforehand, marshalling on the day and of course running the race. Link to our calendar with upcoming dates and information can be found HERE.

It’s a good idea to invest in some off road shoes for cross country. You don’t necessarily have to wear cross country spikes just some shoes with good grip. If you wear road shoes you are likely to fall over! If you want some advice about footwear talk to Andy Carter, Bob Langley or Nicole Smith.

Supporters are always welcome at cross country to cheer on the team, help with taking the scores or the money at the 53-12 League.

Championship Races
There is also the opportunity to compete in Essex Vets, Essex Seniors, South of England and National Championship races. Again these races are open to all abilities. The South of England Championships at Parliament Hill Fields in Hampstead Head is a real experience and the highlight of the cross country calendar for many clubs. Pre-entry for these races via Andy Carter is essential as there are no entries on the day. Dates can be found HERE.

Things to remember for cross country:

• Club colours (vest or t-shirt) must be worn.
• Warm clothes to wear before and afterwards – a club hoody is a good choice!
• Shoes to run in and a change of shoes for afterwards (your running shoes will get dirty so bring a carrier bag to put them in).
• Wet wipes or a towel.
• You don’t need to wear a number except for championship races which are pre-entered.
• When you cross the line someone will give you a disc with a number on it (like Park Run). Give this disc to the person who is writing down the scores for the club.
• Eat some cake afterwards!
• Most of all have fun…

For a list of upcoming cross country fixtures please see the calendar pages on this website or look on the notice board in the club house. Before each race reminders will be sent round via email and on the WhatsApp group.
Results from cross country can be found on the Essex League and 53-12 League websites.

If you need more convincing about the benefits of cross country running read this article in Runners World and why not check out our Gallery for pictures from previous years.